Talking football: Window of opportunity now for Latics!
With the transfer window now having '˜slammed shut' (notice the force...it never merely '˜closes'), Paul Cook can get on with the job in hand of leading Wigan Athletic to promotion from League One.
And he’ll be absolutely delighted at the quality, both in strength and depth, of the squad he has at his disposal.
I’ll be honest, at the end of last term, in the immediate aftermath of relegation from the Championship, I was a tad pessimistic about the possibility of Latics keeping hold of their better players given the expected interest from elsewhere.
But one look at the squad list for 2017/18 – until January at least – underlines the ambition to return to the second tier as quickly as possible.
I would have given long odds on player of the year Dan Burn and talisman Nick Powell playing in League One, with both having shown last term the ability to hold their own higher.
I expected on-field general Sam Morsy to be the subject of a great deal of interest from Championship clubs.
And with Will Grigg and Michael Jacobs having killed it in League One a couple of years ago – and in the last year of their respective contracts – I was fearful they too may be lured to pastures new.
For Latics to have retained the services of all five means the transfer window has to undoubtedly be regarded as a complete success.
Okay, I personally would have preferred Latics to have kept hold of Alex Gilbey, having been impressed with him last season either side of his ankle injury.
But on the flip side, he hadn’t been a regular in the side so far.
And with Max Power having failed to attract sufficient interest from a Championship club, the midfield looks very well-stocked – with Shaun MacDonald also on the way back from injury.
Chief executive Jonathan Jackson has revealed Latics came close to adding another couple of players on deadline day only to be thwarted in their attempts.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book.
You only need to look back to January, when Latics brought in EIGHT players on deadline-day, for proof that the more the merrier doesn’t always work in football.
All eight players have since moved on although, brilliantly, Alex Bruce is now back again, having joined on a fresh 12-month deal.
It was also great to see so many youngsters – like Callum Lang, Chris Merrie and Sam Stubbs – securing loan moves to continue their development, which will only add to Cook’s options down the line.
Chey Dunkley will sit out Saturday’s trip to Shrewsbury – as well as next Tuesday’s clash at Charlton – after Latics decided not to appeal his recent red card against Portsmouth.
Boss Paul Cook last week revealed the club were considering an appeal in light of Pompey striker Brett Pitman’s rather theatrical reaction but, after reviewing the video, the club has decided not to bother.
While Latics will miss Dunkley at the heart of the defence, I can’t help feel it’s the right decision.
While Dunkley may not have made as much contact as Pitman’s fall suggested, he did swing the arm out, giving the referee a decision to make.
To his credit, the big man apologised to the fans straight after the game via social media, and let’s hope he’s learned his lesson – and not to put himself in that position again.
Quote of the day, maybe even the season, came from Javier Tebas, head of La Liga, after UEFA threw out his request to investigate Manchester City and PSG for ‘financial doping’.
“They are laughing at the system,” moaned Tebas. “They have been caught peeing in the swimming pool. Neymar has peed from diving board. We can’t accept this.”
Clearly the wrong-doers need flushing out asap!